Laws in Italy require rail stations, airports, hotels, and most restaurants to follow a strict set of regulations about wheelchair accessibility to restrooms, ticket counters, and the like. Even museums and other attractions have conformed to the regulations. Always call ahead to check on the accessibility in hotels, restaurants, and sights.
With overcrowded streets, more than 400 bridges, and difficult-to-board vaporetti (water buses), Venice has never been accused of being too user-friendly for those with disabilities. The Venice tourist office distributes a free map called Veneziapertutti ("Venice for All"), illustrating what parts of the city are accessible and listing accessible churches, monuments, gardens, public offices, hotels, and restrooms. According to various announcements, Venice will pay even more attention to this issue in the future, possibly adding retractable ramps operated by magnetic cards.
Organizations that offer a vast range of resources and assistance to travelers with disabilities include MossRehab (tel. 800/CALL-MOSS; www.mossresourcenet.org); the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB; tel. 800/232-5463 or 212/502-7600; www.afb.org); and SATH (Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality; tel. 212/447-7284; www.sath.org). AirAmbulanceCard.com (tel. 877/424-7633) allows you to preselect top-notch hospitals in case of an emergency.
Access-Able Travel Source (tel. 303/232-2979; www.access-able.com) offers a comprehensive database on travel agents from around the world with experience in accessible travel; destination-specific access information; and links to resources.
Many travel agencies offer customized tours and itineraries for travelers with disabilities. Among them are Flying Wheels Travel (tel. 507/451-5005; www.flyingwheelstravel.com); and Accessible Journeys (tel. 800/846-4537 or 610/521-0339; www.disabilitytravel.com).
Flying with Disability (www.flying-with-disability.org) is a comprehensive information source on airplane travel.
Also check out the quarterly magazine Emerging Horizons (www.emerginghorizons.com), available by subscription ($16.95 year in the U.S.; $21.95 outside the U.S).
The "Accessible Travel" link at Mobility-Advisor.com (www.mobility-advisor.com) offers a variety of travel resources to persons with disabilities.
British travelers should contact Holiday Care (tel. 0845-124-9971 in the U.K. only; www.holidaycare.org.uk) to access a wide range of travel information and resources for disabled and elderly people.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.